Mayberry Investor Forum sheds light on the Jamaican economy and the IMF !

Just came back from the Mayberry Investment Forum held at the Knutsford court hotel, where a  panel discussion was held to look at Jamaica economy  and the impact of the IMF agreement for 2014.

The panel discussion was Sushil Jain and had  Ralton Hyman, Dennis Chung and Keith Collister.

The general theme was that fiscal figures are trending in the right direction and kudos was given to the Finance Minister for his tenacity and sticking to the IMF engineered program. It was noted that the fiscal surplus as a % of GDP was a very challenging figure, but it was important that Jamaica meet this target to open the door for further investment in the country.

Dennis Chung indicate that for the first in a long time, he had confidence in this IMF program as unlike the other programs that provided funds for budgetary support etc, this program was more focus on levelling the playing field and assisting the productive sector to become more competitive. The IMF would then provide monetary support once the conditions required to support competitiveness in the productive sector are met. Dennis indicated that the main indicators are indeed headed in the right direction and if we stick to the program, then, Jamaica should see some benefits coming out of the program.

Ralston Hyman presented data , which should the challenges faced by the government and indicated what the MOF has done to reduce government spending and the need for the government to retreat from the market and allow the private sector to play a great role in the economy. He  also indicated that we are already beginning to see signs to suggest that things are in fact turning around.

Energy cost was identified as a major impediment to our competitiveness and Jamaica must get this energy plant going, but we must make sure the company selected has a verifiable and long term fuel supply, they can deliver what they promise to deliver and on time. He noted however that given the track record of the company there are some serious questions that we need to answer and we should proceed with caution.

Keith Collister was not as upbeat as the others and lamented the fact that it still takes to long to get things done in Jamaica. He commented on the fact that the approval process was way too slow and we need to address that problem quickly if we truly intend to move forward. He made mention that Jamaica appears to be committed to this IMF program and he has seen more being done over the last 6 months in terms of some serious legislation to improve our competitiveness than he has seen in the last 13 yrs and that is indeed positive.
Keith, however did point out that the private sector needs to step up to the plate and become more involved.

At the end of the interview commonsenseja decided to have a quick question and answer sessions with Ralston Hyman

Commonsenseja : Mr Hyman why in your view has been the reason why there does not appear to be a correlation between higher education being attained by many in Jamaica and the state of the Jamaican economy

R. Hyman : One main reason, migration. A significant portion of trained Jamaicans have migrated and taken their skills to other countries and as such Jamaica has failed to benefit from their training.

Commonsenseja : The average graduate say in engineering has no intention of getting into production at the floor level and instead wants to be a manager. I understand the need to earn more money and that is what a management position offers. Now you spoke about productivity levels in Jamaica has fallen and continues to fall but let’s be honest here. How can one expect that those who were not the “brightest” amongst us, those who did not do well in school and who are hard to train to become highly efficient and productive and dig Jamaica of the hole we are in.

R. Hyman: That is precisely the problem in Jamaica, we have Engineers and highly trained persons involved in production and are being innovative and producing high quality goods in an efficient manner. Jamaica needs to understand this and we need a paradigm shift. I am happy to note that I am beginning to see that change and now places the SLB are now providing loans for training  programs where that training can be more useful in Jamaica

Consensus from the panelist.

Jamaica is making progress small as it maybe its positive and the Minister must be commended for guiding the program thus far.

I am sure the papers will provide a more detailed report.




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